The Top 5 Sustainability Trends in Commercial Roofing

I recently gave a webinar for Roofing Contractor Magazine called ‘The Top 5 Sustainability Trends in Commercial Roofing’ (registration is free).  It was a big success, with more than 1300 attendees!  Here’s what I called out as my top 5 trends:

#5:  Green Building Codes and Rating Systems.  Everyone’s heard of LEED®, but now it’s influencing the building code, and creating competition with other rating systems – all of which has led to the International Green Construction Code, and growth in other rating systems such as Green Globes, Passiv Haus, Earth Craft, etc.  This is creating a major market shift.

#4:  Roofing Materials Recycling.  While the percentage of roofing materials that get recycled is still too low, market growth is very strong.  Industry players – notably RCI and AIA – are driving recycling, and professional roofing contractors are participating in it for the green positioning and because it can save money. 

#3: Cool Roofing.  As we know, everybody wants to be green – but they want it to be easy.  And the great thing about cool roofing is, it’s pretty easy.  This trend is sweeping the world, not just North America.  There’s lots of reasons for this, but in my view, one of them is the science is pretty easy to understand – everyone has experienced first hand that light colors stay cooler.  And in most cases, there is little to no upcharge for a cool roof, so you can get a benefit for little to no cost.

#2: Solar Ready Roofing. It’s hard to make propane on a roof. But you can make electricity and hot water, and most buildings use electricity and hot water!  And roofs are perfect for solar.  So even if you’re not installing renewable energy at the time of the roof install, more and more projects are looking at making the roof ‘Solar Ready’.  California is even requiring new roofs to be ready for solar. 

#1 Give your Company the Green Edge.  The approach here is to work to position yourself and your business more effectively within the green marketplace – in general, this means focusing on cool roofing, roof maintenance, and sustainability.  A great way to start is by pursuing a green designation such as GAF Sustainable Roofing Council membership, which provides a template for ‘getting into green’ and will help make sure you have the latest information on sustainability trends.  It’s also important to walk the talk by performing an office and jobsite waste audit, and to set up a membrane recycling program.  You can also network with other green professionals by joining your local USGBC chapter; and measure your efforts by submitting a job for Roofpoint rating.

These trends are very strong.  You can look at them as either an opportunity or a threat, but GAF is investing to make sure we are ready for these changes, and we are ready to work with you to help you take advantage of them as well. 

What do you think?  Do you see these trends within your own business?  Do you have some more ideas for ‘green positioning’? 

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  1. MCAS Roofing & Contracting

    For years now we have been recycling as much material as possible. There was a time where we would bring one dumpster to all roofing jobs and just toss everything. About ten years ago we began to realize many of the materials can be reused. We tend to let our roofers bring all scraps to a yard and they get paid per pound for things like aluminum siding. However the more we learn the more we realize we can do. MCAS Roofing & Contracting is a certified GAF installer, but we are also going to look into a GAF Sustainable roofing council membership.

  2. lauren

    Great post. I am having someone that does roofing in Hawaii come out to check out my roof out. I just bought my first house last year so I don't really know much about stuff like this. I am feeling a lot of air coming from my ceiling and I don't know why. I am going to have to look more into cool roofing. That sounds like a good idea, thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Ashton Stansfield

    Wow, this seems like a post from the future from where I am working!

    The roof tile shaped solar panels are making a small showing down here in essex and the manufactures are embracing green roofing ethos although I am yet to see the initiative actively advertised to the public.

    We do recycle the old tiles as either reclaimed materials or hardcore if that counts, would it be possible to recycle old roofing battens into tile packaging materials maybe?

  4. Roofing Quest

    We have seen a rise in the use of cool roofing materials for sure over the past few years here in Florida. Commercial roofing Orlando has been growing at a rather quick pace. The good thing about cool roofing products are that they are fairly easy to install and easier to convince the customer because of the energy efficiency and savings they get from this type of roofing system.

  5. Doug Oliver Development

    Having been in Tampa roofing for over 20 years, we are always looking for ways to go green. Cool roofing is almost a necessity when you consider the Urban Heat Island effect. But I do see more and more roofing companies pushing these green products more and more which is a good sign.

  6. Jim M.

    Great post! I am seeing some new roofing in Bethlehem PA being done as 'solar ready', interesting that California is requiring this on all new roofs. My guess is that other states, ie Arizona, New Mexico, etc will follow suit. In fact, I suspect that we may see this movement within the next 5 years across the entire country.

  7. Rooftop Construction

    Nice post! Aside from the rise in the use of cool roofing materials, I have also noticed the vast increase in the number of people who are also switching to solar ready roofing. I find it very promising since it is not just pro-green, but it is also energy efficient. A really great investment.

  8. oklahoma roofing

    The length and width of the roof. Include overhangs in your measurements. Different roofing material comes in different sizes, so you will need to use the proper measurements for each type: inches for metal sheets and feet for asphalt shingles. Thanks.

  9. Wayne Smith

    I absolutely agree with your point “#3: Cool Roofing”, actually I have suffered a lot because of this during the summer, my house use to become an oven because my roof was black (dark grey) in color and I had to ultimately get it changed. Also the roofing material does effect the temperature so do enquire about it propely before selecting one.
    Wayne Smith


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